Eat To Beat Autoimmune and Prevent COVID-19

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Food isn’t like medicine. Food IS medicine.

— Mark Hyman, MD, Functional Medicine pioneer, and 11-time NY Times Bestselling Author

How F.I.G.H.T.S. Can Help Safeguard Your Health

Immune system experts agree this is the time to help our immune systems function at their peak. We can do this by embracing healthy daily lifestyle choices. While doing research for my bestselling book, Beat Autoimmune, I created a simple way for people to remember the major root cause categories we can control with the abbreviation F.I.G.H.T.S,™ which stands for Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins and Stress. It turns out that you prevent COVID-19 much in the same way you reverse or prevent an autoimmune condition:

Start with Food

Food is the number one root cause category of autoimmune conditions. On the flip side, people with autoimmune issues often heal 60% to 100% just by changing what they eat! When you eat inflammatory foods or foods you have developed sensitivities to, your immune system goes on high alert, creating antibodies (missiles) to attack foods (protein molecules) that have breached the gut barrier. When your immune system is distracted by fighting foods, it is not optimized to fight real infections like COVID-19. Food is not just what you eat, it’s how often you eat, which supplements you take, and whether you’re getting harmful pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals with your food and water. Now’s the perfect time to dial in your food, water, and supplements. These are my top autoimmune-beating and immune-strengthening food strategies:

  • sugar

    Eliminate all inflammatory foods (e.g. grains, dairy, sugar, processed foods)

    Gluten creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it; 1 Effect of Gliadin on Permeability of Intestinal Biopsy Explants from Celiac Disease Patients and Patients with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, Hollon, J. et. al., . 2015 Mar; 7(3): 1565–1576, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377866/#; and a leaky gut is the fast path to autoimmunity. Most people who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to casein, the protein in animal dairy. In addition to promoting obesity and diabetes — both risk factors for autoimmunity and COVID-19 — sugar and processed foods block the immune system from functioning for up to 5 hours after eating it. 2Sanchez, A., et al.; Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Nov 1973; 261:1180-1184; http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract

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    Filter your water

    While the EPA sets guidelines for allowable limits of contaminants in drinking water, there is no guarantee that those standards are being met. Our local county public water supply is treated with fluoride, and may also contain any number of 2,100 known toxins commonly found in water, like lead, pesticides, bacteria, iron, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, and copper. To avoid these baddies we use simple water filters in our kitchen, shower and tub faucets.

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    Remove all foods you are sensitive to

    Beyond the usual suspects, gluten, dairy and sugar, it turns out I’m sensitive to eggs, soy, corn, grains, almonds, and vanilla (argh). I got confirmation on this from a recent finger prick blood spot IgG test. This is not a life-sentence on all these foods, it just means that I need to remove them for several months to give my immune system and chance to calm down and stop fighting my foods so it is available to combat real threats. If you are interested in working with me to help you identify your food sensitivities, please contact me.

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    Supplement to strengthen your immunity

    Eating a Paleo template diet is one of the best strategies to reduce obesity, diabetes, and beat an autoimmune condition. Unfortunately our soils have become depleted of key nutrients and we simply can’t expect to get all the necessary nutrients we need through food. Supplementing with targeted nutrients long-term is one of the best strategies to replenish your depleted stores and defend against COVID-19. I take a number of supplements known to improve resilience to infection, including 1 ml liposomal methyl B-complex; 2 – 3 gr corn-free vitamin C; 5K IU liposomal D3 + K2; 30 mg zinc carnosine; 200 mcg selenium + vitamin E; 1 ml liposomal glutathione; 300 mg Co-Q10; 200 mg R-lipoic acid; 500 mg curcumin; 500 mg resveratrol; and .5 mg melatonin an hour before bed.

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    Fast more, eat less often

    Intermittent fasting, also known as “time restricted feeding,” reduces inflammation, strengthens the gut barrier, and helps you move from being a sugar burner to a more metabolically beneficial fat burner. Beyond metabolic benefits, fasting has been shown to rejuvenate the immune system through a process called autophagy, which clears out old, “senolytic” (damaged) cells, making way for new, more robust immune cells. I typically stop eating at 6 pm and don’t eat anything until 10 am or later for a 16 hour fast, also known as 16:8, for the 8 hour eating window. A couple days per week extend the fast by skipping dinner, and a couple of days I eat breakfast earlier to ensure my body knows it’s safe and not starving. 

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    Take infection-fighting herbs

    Herbal antimicrobials and coconut-based compounds are safe and effective for infections of all types, and are often more effective than antibiotics.3 Liu Q, Meng X, Li Y, Zhao CN, Tang GY, Li HB. Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(6):1283. Published 2017 Jun 16. doi:10.3390/ijms18061283; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486105/ I love simplicity so select herbs that cover all the bases. To deal with lingering Lyme co-infections, reactivated Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), and any candida overgrowth I take 600 mg Ecological Formula’s monolaurin, 1000 mg Karuna Olive Leaf extract, and Apex Energetics’ GI-Synergy,™ which is a powerful infection-flighting blend of herbs including wormwood, black walnut, cat’s claw, pau d’arco, organo extract, and Oregon grape extract.

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    Get your D levels up

    This one is the easiest way to fill up your immune system reserves and protect against autoimmunity and viral threats. Experts argue about optimal levels. Personally I get my D levels tested twice a year and optimize my level to 70 – 100 ng/ml, often with sun exposure, but also with 5K IU Quicksilver Scientific Liposomal D3 + K2.

  • fresh

    Go organic

    Organic produce has up to 60% more antioxidants—protection against autoimmune disease and COVID-19—and up to 100 times lower pesticide residue than conventionally farmed produce.419. Baranski, M., et. al., Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 112, Issue 5 14 September 2014, pp. 794-811; https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/higher-antioxidant-and-lower-cadmium-concentrations-and-lower-incidence-of-pesticide-residues-in-organically-grown-crops-a-systematic-literature-review-and-metaanalyses/33F09637EAE6C4ED119E0C4BFFE2D5B1 I try to eat 100% grass-fed, organic meats, oils, and veggies — basically, everything I eat and drink. By going all organic we massively reduce our consumption of chemicals. Remember, you are what you eat ate!

  • avocado

    Go keto periodically

    By emphasizing healthy fats, moderating protein intake, and restricting carbs to roughly 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs) with the ketogenic (keto) diet, energy soars, brain function improves, inflammation is lowered, insulin resistance can be reversed; and the ketogenic diet might be protective against viral infections like the flu. Yale University published a recent study showing that mice fed a ketogenic diet and infected with the influenza virus had a higher survival rate than mice on a normal, high-carb diet.

Prevent COVID-19 and Beat Autoimmune with F.I.G.H.T.S.™

These are uncertain and unprecedented times for us all. For those of us with underlying health conditions like autoimmune challenges, the risk for worse outcomes with COVID-19 is real. The time to take proactive action to safeguard your health is right now, and the best place to start is with food.

You have the ability to control your health outcomes largely by choosing what you eat and drink, and when. Your daily food, water and supplement habits are highly consequential. A choice to just give in to sugar and processed food is a choice to block your immune system from functioning for up to 5 hours after eating it. Can you afford to take that risk? Or, you can choose delicious, nutrient-dense food like the 35 Paleo recipes I include in my bestselling book, Beat Autoimmune and know you are both beating autoimmune and preventing COVID-19.

This is arguably one of the best times to prioritize your health and I invite you to use this time wisely. As you see positive results, you’ll find the motivation to address the other F.I.G.H.T.S. factors like gut health, toxins and stress, until you’re living the life you deserve, one of resilience and vibrant health.

When you implement solid strategies to safeguard your health and get your immune system in good fighting shape, you’ll also be protecting your loved ones, neighbors, and the broader community. And that’s a mission worth fighting for.

What’s your experience healing with food?

Take good care!

p.s. Have autoimmune or mysterious symptoms and confused about what to eat? I created this FREE e-book to help you find your optimal foods.

p.s.s. Want help reversing autoimmunity and preventing COVID-19?

  • If you resonate with healing in community, I think you’d love Beat Autoimmune Academy, a caring online program and super supportive, private Facebook group.
  • If you want my personal help, Functional Medicine testing, and a custom plan, this is for you. NOTE: This is for US-based clients only. You can sign up for a complimentary 15 min consult to discuss how we might work together. If you’re ready to take control of your health outcomes, I’d love to work with you.

You can do it. I can help. Let’s do this together!